1 The song that speaks to everyone
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”, Otis Redding, 1968
“It’s the soul anthem par excellence, a song wet with sorrow. Otis Redding designed it by watching the movement of boats, sitting on a barge. But what he was really contemplating was his own life, growing from a miserable childhood to glory. And he saw that deep down inside, nothing had changed. There remained this dull melancholy which became a hit tune, universally known, published a few weeks after his death in a plane crash”.
2 The song that gives courage
“Soul Man”, Sam & Dave, 1967
“All the songs of this duo were filled with vitamins. But this one was more like dynamite. She wanted to give hope to black people who are so often mistreated. Isaac Hayes composed it after watching a television program about the Detroit riots and noticed that the word “soul” was sometimes painted on shop windows. It was a sign of pride and strength. This strength that must be drawn from within when faced with a difficulty, Soul Man can transmit it to any of us”.
3 The song that relaxes
Sexual Healing, Marvin Gaye, 1982
“Singer Arno told me that one day, in the early 1980s, he had surprised Marvin Gaye coming out of the kitchens of a hotel in Ostend. Lacking inspiration, he took refuge in Belgium, on the shores of the North Sea, hoping to find some comfort there. The comfort in question would be called Sexual Healing, it was really a sweet song. We bless him for going to boarding school in Ostend”.
4 The song that helps escape
“Reach Out I’ll Be There”, The Four Tops, 1966
“These fantastic four only produced a long series of hits throughout the 1960s. But here they are really at the top of their game, that of harmonizing the voices so that they sound like a celestial song. It is indeed an escape song and the subject is that of the outstretched hand. If we catch it, we are sure to find love. Who would refuse that? »
5 The song that makes you dance
“Blackman”, Stevie Wonder, 1976
“As often, Stevie Wonder invites you to dance without turning silly. His songs are made to shake your head while keeping your eyes open if possible. Black Man shows all skin colors. It’s an anti-racist anthem and a dancefloor. Because, listening to it, you can fidget in a thousand ways and tell yourself that you are protesting”.
6 The song that gives the peach
“Nothing From Nothing”, Billy Preston, 1974
“Billy Preston on the roof of Abbey Road is remembered as a fifth Beatles. He was a pianist with raw energy and an unparalleled singer, especially when performing this song capable of abolishing bad weather. So experience ‘Nothing From Nothing’ and you will see light enter your temporarily reclusive lives.
7 The Song That Makes You Think
“Respect”, Aretha Franklin, 1967
Otis Redding had made it a complaint addressed to women who do not want to play the game, that of taking care of men so harassed by their working days. Aretha Franklin covered the song without modifying it much except that it reversed the situation. It was the women now who demanded respect. Nice flip-flop!
8 The song that deserves to be known
“Nothing Compares 2 U”, Prince, 1984
Do you remember this magnificent song performed successfully by Sinéad O’Connor? We had almost forgotten that it had been composed by Prince. We cannot say that it is unknown to our ears but listening to it again in its almost original version is also discovering that our good and late Prince was above all a king of soul”.
9 The song to live with the times
Alright, Kendrick Lamar, 2015
“From D’Angelo to Beyoncé, from Solange to José James, from Mamas Gun to Brittany Howard, she has entered every pore of music and now comes out mixed with rock, rhythm’n’blues, disco, funk including hip-hop, as seen with Kendrick Lamar and his Alright who swears everything will be fine. We readily believe it. Let’s be patient”.
* Columnist at Jazz Magazine, Guy Darol is the author of numerous books on music. His latest book, “Wattstax, a black pride” (published by Castor astral), recounts the mythical concert organized by the Stax label, on August 20, 1972, in Los Angeles. An event considered by many to be the Black Woodstock, which notably featured Isaac Hayes, author of the global success “Shaft”.